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I am Somali

In these relentless days,
if you have been truly alive,
reflect on past times,
trace back the lines,
ask yourself:
Who is Somali?

No-one who breathes oppresses me.
Because I believe in equality
no-one is placed above me.
When you come to visit me
see no half-hearted hospitality.
I AM SOMALI

To those of you who say you care
whilst threatening me with chains,
you’re like a vessel full of holes,
your two-faced treachery leaking away.
Attempts to betray me will never hold sway.
I AM SOMALI

Although I have nothing, my head is high,
I do not beg, I am rich inside with
self-respect, dignity and pride.
If you’re my foe, I’ll never be subdued,
if you’re my friend, my whole heart is for you.
I AM SOMALI

The way ahead is hard, but clear.
My journey will be grievous
though my borders are well-known.
My sword brings danger and misery,
my soul already hangs on the tree.
I AM SOMALI

The man who can harm me barely exists,
but if he comes close, he’ll find I resist.
Should victory be mine, I will not oppress,
any wronged man will regain his rights,
and even my enemies treated justly.
I AM SOMALI

I dread war, always search for peace,
but from enemies I will not flinch,
if they get too close, I’ll defend myself,
won’t turn my face from hostility,
no coward am I –
I AM SOMALI

Swift as the wind yet
not a man of impulse,
toxic as venom yet
swathed in patience, I seek
to bring goodness wherever it’s needed.
I AM SOMALI

To the man who will not consider my view,
I won’t be forced to comply with you,
joining with others all over the world,
I’ll shake off the chains of my oppressors,
servant to no-one, unburdened, free.
I AM SOMALI

Though you have far more wealth than me,
don’t come with patronising charity,
your false praise I do not crave,
I do not sleep, I’m wide awake,
your hollow promises cannot persuade.
I AM SOMALI

While I grazed my cattle, you came to divide,
like livestock you scattered me far and wide,
but my branding you can never hide;
my task now – to do what’s right,
my duty is clear – to re-unite.
I AM SOMALI

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About the translation:
» Read translator's notes
Poet:
Abdulqadir Hersi
Translator:
The Somali-English Poetry Collective
Original language:
Somali
Issue:
No.2 2014 - The Constellation

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